Course Description

Advanced Special Topics. Please see program website for specific details. May be repeated for credit.

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Section Title
Moral Resp & Personal Identity
T, Th
1:30PM to 2:45PM
Sep 03, 2019 to Dec 05, 2019
Schedule and Location
Contact Hours
  • Medford/Somerville Campus
Instruction Method
On Campus  
Available for Credit
3 credit(s)
Section Notes

The idea of moral responsibility is often connected with judgments of moral desert. How could a person deserve blame or punishment, praise or reward? What excusing, mitigating, or disqualifying conditions could there be? Perhaps most fundamentally, what in or about “the person” could be properly subject to assessments of moral responsibility in the first place? Moral responsibility is also connected with personal identity. We ordinarily take personal identity for granted: it would seem obvious,say, that “The person having this thought is and has always been ‘me.’” Yet philosophers from Locke to Parfit have recognized that determining what personal identity consists in is hard. Is “the person” essentially a body, a mind/brain, or some immaterial essence? Consider the following questions: Will “I” continue to exist afte rmy body has died? If yes,why should I be especially worried about my physical death? If no, does this imply that “I” am nothing over and above my body? If “I” were to undergo a psychological transformation, could I literally become a different person? If yes, and “I” had committed a serious crime, would it be legitimate to punish that different person who now in habits the same body? In short, the philosophical problem of personal identity can pose philosophical and practical problems regarding moral responsibility. Books: Derek Parfit. Reasons and Persons. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984.

Basic Enrollment Requirements: Unofficial Transcript – Bachelor’s Degree or progress towards a Bachelor’s Degree + 3.0 GPA. Must have taken two previous Philosophy courses; if you have not, please contact the instructor for permission to enroll

Instructor Approval: Not required

Remission Eligible: Yes; first day of term; all university policies apply

Refund Policy: For-Credit 3+ Weeks

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